William Panzer, producer of the “Highlander” franchise, died of an aneurysm Sunday in Boise, Idaho. He was 64.
Panzer teamed with producer Peter Davis when he moved to Los Angeles in 1976, and Davis-Panzer Productions went on to produce more than 20 films, including Sam Peckinpah’s final film “The Osterman Weekend” in 1983, “Death Collector” with Joe Pesci, “Stunts” and “Freeway.”
Davis-Panzer started a successful franchise with the 1986 “Highlander,” about an immortal Scottish warrior locked in a centuries-long death match. “Highlander” eventually spawned four sequels, three TV series and a videogame. Panzer also contributed to the screenplays for three of the “Highlander” films.
Since 1982, Panzer had been a familiar figure at the Cannes Film Festival, where he was known for his dapper style and sense of humor. “Bill was one of the original independent film producers,” says his longtime business partner Davis. “He was not always the easiest of men, but he was the best of men.”
“Bill was a vibrant presence and a very popular attendee at ‘Highlander’ conventions where he made himself completely available to everyone, mingling with the fans ,” says Highlander Worldwide Fan Club president Carmel MacPherson.
Panzer was born in New York and attended Princeton U. before attending NYU Film School. He produced his first film, the 1968 docu “Mexican Anticipation” featuring Duke Ellington while at NYU, and then partnered in New York TV commercial company Phos Cine Productions before moving to L.A.
He was a member of BAFTA and the Television Academy.
Panzer is survived by his wife Priscilla.
A memorial service will be held April 15.
Donations may be made to a scholarship fund in his name at the Lawrenceville School in Princeton, N. J.